A new 26-30 Railcard is set to be offered by one train company from December ahead of a possible national roll-out early next year, MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal.
The new railcard, which is likely to give passengers aged 26 to 30 a third off most fares, is set to be tested in the area served by Greater Anglia from early December, with 10,000 railcards initially available.
The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, has refused to comment on whether it has plans for a wider roll-out.
But a document circulated on a UK rail forum – which appears to be an internal Rail Delivery Group briefing to staff dated last month – gives details of the scheme and says the railcard "goes national in early 2018". The Rail Delivery Group has not confirmed or denied any of the memo's details.
The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), which is part of the Rail Delivery Group, also appears to have registered a number of website domain names relating to the card, including 26-30railcard.com – suggesting it may be preparing for a wider launch.
How will the new 26-30 Railcard work?
Details of the scheme are still sketchy, but here's what we know so far:
- Greater Anglia IS set to trial the 26-30 Railcard from early December. Greater Anglia has confirmed that 10,000 railcards are likely to be available initially, but this will increase in the New Year. It's not currently clear whether the railcards will give you a discount on all routes or just Greater Anglia services.
- The railcard's LIKELY to be rolled out nationally next year. This is based on the briefing document we've seen, and hasn't been confirmed. It says that "from early 2018 the trial will be expanded to retail nationwide" and that a further 10,000 railcards will be made available.
- The railcard's LIKELY to give a third off most fares. Again, this is based on the briefing document, and isn't confirmed. It says the new railcard will be based on the existing 16-25 Railcard, which gives a third off most fares. There's likely to be a £12 minimum fare for tickets (other than advance fares) between 4.30am and 10am Monday to Friday – excluding public holidays and dates in July and August.
- The railcard's LIKELY to be available to anyone aged 26-30. The briefing document – again, unconfirmed – says you'll be able to buy the card up to and including the day before you turn 31.
- The railcard's LIKELY to be for one year and digital only. Again this is from the unconfirmed briefing document. It says there will only be a one-year card, not a three-year-card option, as for the 16-25 Railcard. And it will only be available in digital form, via the Railcard app, which is currently being rolled out – you won't be able to get a physical card.
It's not clear how much the railcard will cost, but similar railcards currently available are usually £30 for a year – though frequently there are discount codes. See our MSE Railcard deals page for more information.
There is also a popular trick with the current 16-25 Railcard, which means you can use it until you're almost 27. See our Cheap Trains guide for more information.
'Any extension of the scheme is welcome'
Steve Nowottny, news and features editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "This is a trial, we still don't have full details and a national roll-out hasn't yet been officially confirmed, so it's early days.
"But on the face of it, this is great news for passengers who are a little too long in the tooth for the 16-25 Railcard – if the trial's successful it'll mean you'll now be able to benefit from discounted fares until your 31st birthday.
"As a rule of thumb, if you spend over £90 a year on train travel, even just on one fare, a railcard can be worth getting if you're eligible – and while it remains to be seen how the trial goes, any extension of the scheme is very welcome."
'Better value fares for passengers'
The Rail Delivery Group has refused to give any comment on the trial and has refused to confirm or deny any of the details in the briefing paper published online.
But a search of website domain records appears to show that the ATOC has already registered a number of domain names relating to the card, including 26-30railcard.com in August this year.
A spokesperson said: "We can't comment on this at the moment, but we are always carrying out research and working with the train companies to develop new offers that make leisure travel easier, and better value for money."
A Greater Anglia spokesperson told MoneySavingExpert that it will be trialling the railcard from December, and said passengers will be able to sign up for it via the Railcard app on Apple or Android.
She said: "We are delighted to be at the forefront of this innovative trial, bringing better value fares and more convenience to rail passengers in East Anglia."